Background: Supervised aerobic exercise training (ET) is recommended for stable outpatients with heart failure (HF) with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). Frailty, a syndrome characterized by increased vulnerability and decreased physiologic reserve, is common in patients with HFrEF and associated with a higher risk of adverse outcomes. The effect modification of baseline frailty on the efficacy of aerobic ET in HFrEF is not known. Methods: Stable outpatients with HFrEF randomized to aerobic ET versus usual care in the HF-ACTION (Heart Failure: A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training) trial were included. Baseline frailty was estimated using the Rockwood frailty index (FI), a deficit accumulation-based model of frailty assessment; participants with FI scores >0.21 were identified as frail. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models with multiplicative interaction terms (frailty × treatment arm) were constructed to evaluate whether frailty modified the treatment effect of aerobic ET on the primary composite end point (all-cause hospitalization or mortality), secondary end points (composite of cardiovascular death or cardiovascular hospitalization, and cardiovascular death or HF hospitalization), and Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire score. Separate models were constructed for continuous (FI) and categorical (frail versus not frail) measures of frailty. Results: Among 2130 study participants (age, 59±13 years; 28% women), 1266 (59%) were characterized as frail (FI>0.21). Baseline frailty burden significantly modified the treatment effect of aerobic ET (P interaction: FI × treatment arm=0.02; frail status [frail versus nonfrail] × treatment arm=0.04) with a lower risk of primary end point in frail (hazard ratio [HR], 0.83 [95% CI, 0.72-0.95]) but not nonfrail (HR, 1.04 [95% CI, 0.87-1.25]) participants. The favorable effect of aerobic ET among frail participants was driven by a significant reduction in the risk of all-cause hospitalization (HR, 0.84 [95% CI, 0.72-0.99]). The treatment effect of aerobic ET on all-cause mortality and other secondary endpoints was not different between frail and nonfrail patients (P interaction>0.1 for each). Aerobic ET was associated with a nominally greater improvement in Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire scores at 3 months among frail versus nonfrail participants without a significant treatment interaction by frailty status (P interaction>0.2). Conclusions: Among patients with chronic stable HFrEF, baseline frailty modified the treatment effect of aerobic ET with a greater reduction in the risk of all-cause hospitalization but not mortality.
- heart failure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)